Basil, pinenuts, garlic, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. With a fine grating of grana padana if so desired. Is it possible to have too much Pesto alla Genovese in summer. Oh, I don’t think so. The only real challenge is being able to grow enough basil to keep up the supplies. And it is so hot, and so dry, that I’m afraid we’re not going to get through to September.
Basil and Pinenut Pesto alla Genovese
Before Paleo, we were big fans of Spaghetti: Barilla No.3, to be precise. It was a Saturday lunch-time ritual, often just with extra virgin and garlic with grated grana, but in summer, in summer, the Pesto! We’d step beyond the confines of tradition (it’s called Pesto alla Genovese because the original comes from Genova) by adding halved cherry tomatoes, for both the colour burst and the gorgeous marriage of flavours. I found Basmati Rice Noodles the other day, and thought, oh, why not give it a try. It was fab. It was fun, all that twirling and sucking pesto-coated noodles through pursed lips. Yum.
The great thing about Pesto alla Genovese is that it has no bounds. It’s so good spooned through Cauliflower Cous-Cous, or mixed through boiled potatoes, or used as a dipping for sliced raw vegetables, or accompanying poached eggs. Limited only by ones imagination, really.
I know you can make it in a food processor. But up at Monte we don’t have one. We do have a wibble-wobble see-saw knife. And an unrushed, take-your-time disposition. It’s a different experience, and a joyful one. To actually feel the crunch of sea-salt and the crumbling of pinenuts beneath the blade is wonderful. So satisfying to see how it all comes together, with patience and a consistent, stable rhythm of the working blade.
To be honest, I flow more with intuition than specifics when I’m preparing many foods, but for the blog I do my best to weigh and measure. The only thing is the extra virgin. There are no known quantities. Just drown the pesto in oil. Flood it, so it is swimming, don’t skimp. That way it’ll last longer if you are lucky enough to have some left over for later. With the quantities listed below, we had two generous serves for lunch, and the same amount remaining. So – love my mathematics! – at one sitting with this amount, you’d make four people very happy. Our standard is 125 grams of noodle for each person, but that’s a main meal. If you’re serving it as an entree, 80 grams is fine.
The addition of Grana Padana is purely optional. I just read that Grana Padana DOP is lactose-free, so even if you are lactose intollerant, you might want to give it a try. We’ve only just started re-adding Grana to our ingredient list, and we use it modestly: once a week, about 30 grams between the two of us. The trick, when using such small quantities, is to cut it into small, usuable blocks, wrap them in kitchen paper, and pop them in the freezer. The General’s Mum taught me that, and you’ve got to trust an Italian mother-in-law when it comes to food.
On the Side
Some more tasty Summer Essentials:
- Salsa Verde – the Summer Condiment – perfect with fish, meat, eggs and for dipping.
- Carrot and Zucchini Fettucine – a change from the usual zucchini noodles, and no appliances to wash up!
- Paleo Bread with Cassava Flour and Linseeds – great for toasting and spreading with Pesto.
Pesto alla Genovese is one of those recipes where everyone has a way of tweaking it to make it their own. How do you make yours? Do let me know in the comments.
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- 30 grams Basil
- 20 grams Pinenuts
- 1 fat clove of Garlic
- ½ teaspoon of course sea salt
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 20 grams Grana Padana (optional)
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
- In a small fry-pan over a low heat, lightly toast the pinenuts. Don't lose concentration while you are doing this: keep tossing them, and watch them carfeully so that you catch them as their oil seeps out and they golden, but don't let them burn.
- Place the toasted pinenuts onto a large chopping board with the basil, garlic and sea salt, and start chopping and chopping with a see-saw action until all is reduced to a fine consistency.
- Place in a bowl and pour the Extra Virgin Olive Oil so liberally that the Pesto is covered with a 2mm film of oil.
- Serve over your rice noodles or vegetables, add halved cherry tomatoes if so desired,
- Add freshly grated Grana Padana at the very last moment.
- Buon Apetito! Enjoy!